One Day in Johannesburg

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Jan 2nd, 2004, 06:07 AM
  #1
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One Day in Johannesburg

We are leaving the end of March for Botswana. We fly into Johannesburg and have a little over one full day there. Actually I think we arrive the first day at 4:00 p.m. after flying 17 hours or so. I guess that is a write off. We have a full day and evening the next day and wonder how best to spend it. Would really appreciate your suggestions.
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Jan 2nd, 2004, 08:01 AM
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As with so many things, it depends on one's taste and interests. Here are 3 suggestions off the top of my head:

(1) Day trip to Pretoria which in many ways, to my taste anyway, is a more interesting city than Johannesburg. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa. (Cape Town is the legislative capital and Bloemfontein the judicial capital. That was a compromise that was struck when the Cape Colony, Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal Republic united to form a single country in 1910.) I did a Google search, and saw a tour company that offered a round trip tour to Pretoria departing from, and returning to, Johannesburg in 4 hours. I think that's ridiculous. There is no way one could do justice to Pretoria's history in half a day. It deserves a full day, IMO.

(2) Tour of Soweto, which used to be a "township" during the apartheid era.

(3) Gold Reef City, which shows what Johannesburg was like in its very early days during the gold rush. Amongst other things, you can see molten metal being poured into moulds to become gold bars.

Soweto and Gold Reef City could take a half day each, and theoretically could be combined into a single day. However, if you're feeling jet lagged, you may not want to push yourself, and may be content with just one or the other. We spent a full day at Gold Reef City and half a day in Soweto.
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Jan 3rd, 2004, 11:18 AM
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My opinion is opposite to Judy's. I'ved lived in both Pretoria and Jo'burg, admittedly quite a while ago, and only for a short time in each place. But other than the Union Buildings in Pretoria (really gorgeous, and set in lovely grounds), what would you do in there? The city does have a great zoo, but if you're going on safari in Botswana, you'll see plenty of wild life in the wild.

What I would do is go to your Jo'burg hotel, have a drink and maybe a quick walk around the area, have an early dinner, and go to bed. Wake up sort of refreshed, which is not easy after that 17 hour flight, and then go to Gold Reef City and go down in the mine, then watch gold poured. Watch the mine dancers who perform on the street, and maybe have lunch. Then go to the apartheid museum. I'm sorry I can't remember its actual name. Then go to Sandton and check out some of the rich and glitzy shops, or to Rosebank and sit at a sidewalk cafe. Johannesburg is full of good restaurants too, so you'll have no trouble finding a great place for dinner.

Whatever you decide, have a wonderful time!

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Jan 5th, 2004, 05:38 AM
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I want to correct a mistake -- there is a museum called the Apartheid Museum, but I haven't been there. It is said to be quite good. The museum I'm thinking of is the African Museum or Museum of Africa, or some name close to that, and it depicts the life of the average urban black in pre-1990's. I think it is near the Market Theatre. That area of town isn't the safest, so if you go, get advice from your hotel before going.

I didn't mean to sound hostile to Pretoria. It's just that I personally wouldn't want to take a bus trip there on a day when I'm still pretty jet lagged.
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Jan 6th, 2004, 08:48 AM
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Hi,

We too had one day in JoBurg before flying on to Botswana.

We elected to do a morning tour of Soweto and thought it was excellent! (We used Johnny's face to face). We had planned to do gold reef city as well but were still pretty jet lagged so we just took it easy by the hotel pool in the afternoon.
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Jan 17th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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Thanks for all of your suggestions. I had been intrigued by the idea of a tour to Soweto and am glad to hear that you found it interesting. I also had heard quite a bit about the Gold Reef City but thought it might be "too Disneyish" but will probably give it a try at least for half day. I know we will be jet-lagged too but sometimes we aren't smart enough to stop. Celia mentions walking around Johannesburg but my impression was that there weren't many place in Johannesburg that were safe enough to walk around. Am I mistaken? We always like to get out and wander a little if we can. Any info you can provide would be wonderful. Thanks for all of your help.
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Jan 18th, 2004, 05:56 PM
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Sprig, where is your Johannesburg hotel? If it's in Sandton or Rosebank or any of the northern suburbs, the area is safe to walk in during the daytime.

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Jan 22nd, 2004, 02:47 PM
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We are at the Rosebank Hotel which I presume must be in the Rosebank area. It is good to know that it is safe to walk there during the day. Do you know the area? Are there many restaurants or shops? Although I know it is too early to shop with the luggage restrictions.
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Jan 23rd, 2004, 08:02 AM
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Yes, there are many lovely restaurants in the area, and the Rosebank mall is full of big and little shops with everything from jewelry to pots and pans to chic clothing to sewing machine parts to groceries. There are art galleries and interior decorators in the area, and sidewalk cafes, and a pub or two. I think I have also seen street vendors there, with handicrafts. It's a really charming area, and walking around there will give you a real feel for the city. I've stayed at the Rosebank Hotel. It's very nice.
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Jan 27th, 2004, 08:30 PM
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Thanks so much for your help. You guys are great. I have to admit that I am guilty of hanging around "Where I am going threads" more than "Where I have been threads" which isn't very charitable. I will try to do better. Thanks again. This is where I get all of my best info.
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